Portuguese sows seeds of soccer love in SZ

Writer: Zhang Yu  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2022-11-04

Editor’s Note


Shenzhen Daily has joined hands with the Information Office of Shenzhen Municipal People's Government to launch a series of reports titled “Decade of Transformation,” to tell the story of Shenzhen in the eyes of expats. Rafael Saavedra, a popular YouTuber who has been living and working in China for seven years, will host the series, showing you Shenzhen, a dynamic and energetic city from the perspective of 60 expats. This is the second story of the series. 

由深圳市人民政府新闻办公室与英文《深圳日报》(Shenzhen Daily)共同策划推出的系列全媒体国际传播作品《我们这10年:湾区老外说变化(Decade of Transformation)》已在各大主流媒体和互联网平台正式上线,该系列将集中展示过去十年以来深圳在各个领域所取得的伟大成就。此次系列作品中,在中国工作和生活了七年的知名网络博主Rafael Saavedra将向大家介绍60位外籍人士,通过他们的脚步和镜头记录和观察一座行进中的中国年轻都市。敬请垂注!



Filipe Neto Maia has lived in Shenzhen for over eight years and is the founder of the soccer school called Portuguese Football Warriors. Maia loves soccer, and he is passing on the passion to the kids in Shenzhen and helping them fall in love with the sport. 



Portuguese sows seeds of soccer love in SZ

When it comes to Shenzhen, what do you think of first? “China’s Silicon Valley,” “City of Libraries,” “City of Piano,” “UNESCO City of Design,” or “City of Parks?” In fact, Shenzhen has another calling card — a key city for national soccer development.


Shenzheners love nature and sports. Soccer, a sport with a long history, is brimming with vitality in Shenzhen, a young coastal city. Filipe Neto Maia, a Portuguese expat who has been living in the city for eight years, feels the same way.


Promoting soccer culture


Maia is the founder of the soccer school called Portuguese Football Warriors. He first worked for a wine company and then discovered that China lacked a soccer culture, so he decided to open his own soccer school in Shenzhen.


Filipe Neto Maia, founder of Portuguese Football Warriors, at an interview with Shenzhen Daily.


According to Maia, it is convenient for a foreigner to start a business in Shenzhen. As an avid soccer lover, Filipe has spotted a niche in the market which has an enormous potential to introduce children to soccer and help them fall in love with the sport, as it has an overwhelming global appeal and continues to grow with an ever-expanding audience.


Kids at a soccer training session coached by Portuguese Football Warriors coaches.

Maia said that one of the school’s goals is to make the kids fall in love with the sport. “Every day you can see here that each one of these kids is in love with soccer, so basically they are spreading the love for it.”


“Our goal is to spread the love for football. That’s what we can do. And I think this is important because it’s one of the government’s priorities to develop the sport,” Maia said.


Key city for national soccer development


On Jan. 25 this year, Shenzhen was approved by the country’s sports authority to become one of nine key cities in the first batch for national soccer development during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025). The other eight cities are Shanghai, Chengdu, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Changchun, Chongqing, Dalian and Qingdao.


In fact, the city government set up a leading group headed by Mayor Qin Weizhong to promote the city’s soccer reform and development last year. Early in 1992, Shenzhen was selected as one of China’s key soccer cities.


Maia and two other coaches of Portuguese Football Warriors give advice to kids at an interval of a soccer training session.


“What we want is to pass the love for football and that’s why the country gets better in a professional way when somebody loves a sport. And we are doing that daily here, that is, letting the kids fall in love with football,” he said.


More soccer exchanges


Maia is looking forward to bringing the kids in his schools to Europe again where they can play with excellent players trained in different countries and in different cultures and he hopes this can happen soon when the COVID situation improves.


Kids at a soccer training session.


According to him, Shenzhen’s soccer education should be more professional. “How to coach the kids, how to make them fall in love with the sport and how to give proper training to them in our own way — these are aspects that we need to give more thought to.”


Maia gives instructions from the sidelines at a soccer training session. 


“Shenzhen is a very green city. It’s close to the beach and also close to Hong Kong and Macao. The infrastructure is amazing. That’s what makes Shenzhen such a wonderful city,” Maia said, who has a lifelong interest in soccer and has been passing on the passion to thousands of kids in Shenzhen and contributing to the construction of a key city for national soccer development.